The deal throws into doubt the joint venture between Hachette and Emap, which involves Emap publishing Hachette's Elle title in the UK and has led to the joint development of the New Woman and Red titles.
Hachette will pay £40 million for Attic, the publisher of six magazines including B, Sugar and Inside Soap. The deal gives Hachette a launch-pad for a UK operation.
Attic's Vivien Cotterill will continue as the managing director, and all senior staff will keep their roles. Kevin Hand, the former chief executive of Emap who joined Hachette earlier this year to spearhead its overseas development, takes the position as the chairman of the publisher's UK operation.
PMP, the Australian printing group, is the current owner of Attic which was founded in 1989 and is the seventh-largest UK magazine group.
Emap said talks with Hachette about the future of their joint venture were ongoing and likely to take several months. Reports suggest that Elle will move over to Hachette's UK operation with Emap retaining control of Red and New Woman.
The chief executive of Emap Consumer Media, Paul Keenan, said: "Hachette's purchase of Attic Futura will inevitably have an effect on the Hachette/Emap joint venture. In the light of Hachette's known intentions to purchase Attic and other issues, Emap last month initiated discussions on the future direction of the joint venture. We are now prepared for a possible separation of the titles and are committed to ensuring that any separation will be amicable and efficient."
Hachette will attempt to grow Attic into a serious force in UK publishing.
It employs 130 staff and had a 2001 turnover of £36.5 million. No redundancies are expected.